Ben Gao, LMSW

Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Bethesda MD
I approach therapy broadly from an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) perspective. ACT is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is evidence-based, and its effectiveness is supported by decades of research. Along with ACT, I have a study in Western and Eastern wisdom/spiritual traditions, stoicism and Buddhism in particular. In practice, I aim at helping clients to let go of unhelpful patterns of thoughts and feelings, to embrace their inherent ignorance and wisdom, and to stumble toward living the life they consciously choose. In that work, I am guided by my personal experience with psychedelics, by evidence based methods in ACT, and by teachings and practices from Stoicism and Buddhism.
I came to psychotherapy as a second career, after a long legal career motivated by seeking external validation, which left me prideful, lost, and lonely. My transformative journey, to love, connection, and meaning, was enabled by psychedelics, therapy, community, and wisdom practices from stoicism and Buddhism. My personal psychedelic experiences skew heavily toward ayahuasca, but with substantial experience with other traditional psychedelics.